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A former forecasting method. Photo: Topical/Hulton/Getty
Four years ago, a team of researchers linked to the University of Pennsylvania wowed the U.S. intelligence community by producing a superior new way to forecast geopolitical events. They were dubbed the "superforecasters."
What's happening: IARPA, the research arm for the U.S. director of national intelligence, is offering $250,000 in prize money in a contest to forecast geopolitical events such as elections, disease outbreaks and economic indicators.
I asked Seth Goldstein, an IARPA program manager who is running the contest, his dream outcome: "I am hoping to find the next Swiss patent clerk doing forecasting in his spare time," he says.
But from 2011 to 2015, IARPA ran another forecasting contest. That's the one that was won by the UPenn team, led by social scientist Philip Tetlock.
Goldstein calls Tetlock's performance the "gold standard." But now he wants to do better.
Members of Tetlock's group have added to their forecasting renown. Regina Joseph, a Tetlock superforecaster, built a cybersecurity forecasting training program for the Dutch National Cyber Security Centre, in addition to a tournament that launched last year and is still underway.
As they've boomed, Silicon Valley giants like Uber, Google and Apple have turned into startup factories. But Amazon — with a few notable exceptions in Hulu, Instacart and Flipkart — hasn't had many cases of alums leaving to become founders, Erica writes.
Now Amazon is promoting entrepreneurship — even offering funding — and encouraging employees to start companies, but only if they are in service of the e-commerce giant.
What's happening: Amazon is paying employees $10,000 plus three months of pay to quit and start small businesses that deliver Amazon packages.
The bottom line: Amazon is creating an ecosystem distinct from its Big Tech brethren.
Go deeper: Amazon's delivery army (Axios)
Esports fans. Photo: Daniel Reinhardt/dpa/Getty
A new infographic from the Visual Capitalist charts the precipitous rise of esports and the resulting tangled web of sponsorships, syndications and events, Kaveh writes.
Go deeper: Esports, the new social square (Axios)
New Hampshire, circa 1950. Photo: Orlando/Three Lions/Getty
We received several reactions to Erica's story last week about shaving startups.
In a series of tweets, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers wrote:
"This article is as vivid an example as I have seen of the need for an overhaul of US antitrust. If this can be happening in shaving industry, problems may be pervasive even outside technology.
The interesting question is how much of the problem is failed enforcement of existing law and how much is that existing law needs to be altered. I suspect the former.
You do not have to have a broad new theory of antitrust to be appalled by these developments. They look terrible for consumer welfare."
And Eric Tischler of Silver Spring, Maryland, wrote: "As a former Mach III devotee, I can tell you that the six-blade Dollar Shave Club head is legit."
Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
How to talk capitalism to millennials (Edward Glaeser — City Journal)
The ever-rising flack-to-hack ratio (Courtenay Brown — Axios)
Why Amazon bought PillPack (Christina Farr — CNBC)
A troubled coding boot camp in Appalachia (Campbell Robertson — NYT)
How did Danielle Steel write 179 books? (Samantha Leach — Glamour)
Photo: Courtesy Squishy Robotics
A new breed of small, bouncy robots are meant to rain down over disaster sites, gathering vital data from where they fall to help rescue missions in uncertain terrain.
Kaveh writes: Originally designed for a NASA mission on Titan, Saturn's largest moon, these squishy robots — designed by a Berkeley company called, well, Squishy Robotics — pack tons of sensors into the size of a softball.
Go deeper: The robot that can be dropped from a helicopter (TechCrunch)